Apple fanbois leak secrets of Mac OS X Lion

Internet defies Jobsian police

hands waving dollar bills in the air

Details about Apple's upcoming Mac OS X version 10.7, code-named Lion, are flooding the web despite Cupertino's ban on such information being released by developers toying with the beta that was made available to them last Thursday.

Steve Jobs revealed few details about the OS when he announced it at a "Back to the Mac" gathering at Apple's Cupertino campus on October 20 of last year. In addition to the Mac App Store, which went live for Snow Leopard users on January 6 of this year, Job talked only about:

  • Launch Pad, an iOS-like app-launcher;
  • Mission Control, an agglomeration of Mac OS X's Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard;
  • Full-screen apps, which override the long-standing windows UI model; and
  • New multi-touch gestures for laptops or desktops that use their built-in trackpads, Apple's Magic Trackpad, or some future keyboard-trackpad mash-up.

In addition, Mac OS X Lion's promo page on Apple's website – which notes that Lion will appear "in summer 2011" – has been updated with more information:

  • Auto Save, as its name implies, automatically saves changes in documents you're working on – but saves just the changes, not entire new files, thus speeding saves and saving drive space.
  • Versions, presumably in concert with Auto Save, keeps versions of your working documents available for reversion.
  • Resume (not Résumé) reopens apps and documents in the same state at which you closed them – but only if those apps, in Apple's words, "have been developed to work with Lion".
  • Air Drop provides an interface that enables you to send files directly to other users' Downloads folder. Apple's emphasis is on wireless transfer, hence the name Air Drop.
  • File Vault will allow you to encrypt an entire drive rather than merely your Home folder as it does now, using XTS-AES 128 data encryption.
  • Mail version 5 will adopt significant chunks of the iOS version's look-and-feel.

Now, thanks to an avalanche of non-disclosure violations published by such fanboi sites as AppleInsider and 9to5 Mac, plus a plethora of YouTube videos, we've learned more about Lion. Details that leakers have reported include:

  • SSD TRIM support: The French-language website MacGeneration reports the discovery of "Oui" in the System Profiler report of an SSD-equipped Mac on the line listed as "Prise en charge de TRIM" ("Support for TRIM"), indicating that this SSD management and longevity-assisting tech may be coming in Lion.
  • About This Mac changes: MacGeneration also includes a screenshot showing how the Apple menu's About This Mac display has been iOS-ified. AppleInsider provides more details of About This Mac changes, including the replacement of mere text-based information with graphic representations.
  • Finder Enhancements: AppleInsider reports a number of changes to the Finder, including iOS-style scroll bars, windows resizeable from any corner or side, the replacement of the disclosure triangles in a Finder windows Sidebar with mouseover-appearing Show/Hide clickables, and a new set of Finder-window file-viewing options, including views grouped by item type or various dating data.
  • Quick View displays: Again from AppleInsider come details of Quick View, an apparent expansion of the Quick Look "what's in that file?" capability that first appeared in Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard. Quick View will be added to the Spotlight file-search function, which will offer mouseover Quick View displays in what are deliciously called popover windows, as will also the list and icon views of the Dock-folder items called Stacks.
  • Find My Mac: According to 9to5 Mac, the Find My [insert iOS device here] ability to locate, um, "misplaced" devices will be expended to Macs, despite the fact that MacBooks don't have GPS hardware. Exactly how this trick might be accomplished remains uncertain.
  • Signature Capture: 9to5 Mac also notes that a Signature Capture feature will allow you to take a snapshot of your good ol' pen-and-ink sig using your Mac's built-in camera and paste that image into a Preview document.
  • Removed features and apps: As The Reg noted on Sunday, the Java runtime and the PowerPC code–running Rosetta virtualizer – which Apple refers to as an "innovative software translation technology" – have been removed from Lion. The Java runtime will be offered for automatic downloading should it be required, but Rosetta appears to be gone forever, as is the media-playing Front Row app, according to AppleInsider.

AppleInsider also offers information from its NDA-defying sources about tweaks to the FontBook font-management app; better Migration Assitant support for newbies switching to a Mac from a Windows PC; the addition of Yahoo! Messenger as an account type in the video, voice, and text messaging app iChat; error-handling tech that allows you to choose to let a misbehaving app continue running – at least long enough for you to save your work – rather than simply crashing; iOS-style push notifications; and an assortment of other enhancements to core functions and apps.

If you'd like to get in on the "What's in Lion?" fun, you should be able to download the Lion beta from iModZone Downloads, as explained by one YouTuber. Were not saying that you should grab a bootleg, just that you can – and we assume Apple's legal team understands the distinction. ®

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